The Bahá’í Administrative Order,
established by Bahá’u’lláh
The affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered through a system of institutions, each with its defined sphere of action. The origins of this system—known as the Bahá’í Administrative Order—are found in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh Himself.
Today the Universal House of Justice is the central governing body of the Administrative Order. Under its guidance, elected bodies, known as Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies, tend to the affairs of the Bahá’í community at their respective levels.
Service on a Bahá’í institution is viewed as a privilege, but not one that is sought by the individual. It is a responsibility to which he or she may be called at any given time.
Local Spiritual Assemblies
At the local level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the Local Spiritual Assembly. Each Local Assembly consists of nine members who are elected annually.
The responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly include:
- promoting the spiritual education of children and young people,
- strengthening the spiritual and social fabric of Bahá’í community life,
- assessing and utilizing the community’s resources,
- ensuring that the energies and talents of community members contribute towards progress
- organizing the Nineteen Day Feast.
To contact Bahá’ís in your locality write to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 031 352 1020.
The Nineteen Day Feast
The Nineteen Day Feast brings the friends living in a particular locality together once every nineteen days, at the beginning of every Bahá’í month; they pray and consult together, give suggestions to the Local Spiritual Assembly, and receive information from it.
Feasts are being organised, formally, in every locality that have a Local Assembly; in other places, such gatherings may informally also occur.
National Spiritual Assembly
At the national level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the National Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member elected council annually. It’s overall mandate is to guide, coordinate, and stimulate the activities of Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual members of the Bahá’í community within a given country.
The responsibilities of a National Spiritual Assembly include:
- fostering the growth and vibrancy of the national Bahá’í community,
- channelling the community’s financial resources and supervising the affairs of the community including its properties,
- overseeing relations with government,
- resolving questions from individuals and Local Spiritual Assemblies,
- and strengthening the participation of the Bahá’í community in the life of society at the national level.
At the national and local levels, the Assemblies are elected each year by secret ballot. All Bahá’ís over the age of 21 are eligible to vote, and are asked to do so in a spirit of prayer.
Elections follow the basic Bahá’í electoral procedures: no nominations are permitted, campaigning is forbidden, electors are asked to give consideration to moral character and practical ability, and those women and men who receive the most votes are elected.
While the Local Spiritual Assembly is elected by all adult members of the local Bahá’í community, the National Spiritual Assembly is elected by delegates, who were elected in district or “unit” conventions. Each year, the delegates assemble at the National Convention, consult and share insights about the progress of the Bahá’í community, and vote for the members of the National Spiritual Assembly.
The members of all National Spiritual Assemblies are directly responsible for electing the Universal House of Justice every five years.
Other reflection spaces
In addition to the Nineteen Day Feast, other spaces are organised at the local and regional level to reflect on activities aimed to build vibrant communities. These gatherings are an opportunity to rejoice in the achievements of all involved, and make plans for the next cycle of activities.